Small World: A voice from Tehran

Henry Precht

Henry Precht

By Henry Precht

BN Columnist

Recently, a journalist from Tehran — call him Sreza — out of the blue e-mailed me with a series of questions for his news agency. I responded with the diplomatic blah I had learned in the State Department. In return, I asked him to give me his opinion on subjects of interest in the U.S.-Iran context.

Here follows his answers, with the language slightly touched up for stylistic reasons:

  1. If the nuclear agreement with Iran is successfully completed, what expectations do Iranians have for their country afterward?

Sreza: The people want better economic situation and financial trade with main countries. To develop the nation’s infrastructure. And a decline in the cost of living.

  1. What are the sources of the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

Sreza: Bad behavior of Saudi Arabia against Iran. She thinks that she is the best in the region and all the people of the country love her. They just depend on petro dollar. Of course, this is a cold tension. Iran has tried several times to have better relations with the Saudis but the rulers of that country ignored. Another important point is the previous and current proxy war between Tehran and Riyadh. Saudi Arabia is against Shia, too. This is another important thing.

  1. What realistic outcome would Iran like to see in Syria?

Sreza: Preserving the current government and restoring the peace for the people because Syria is the key front for Iran against Iran’s biggest enemy, Israel.

  1. How serious a threat to Iran is ISIS and how do you believe it should be addressed?

Sreza: I don’t believe ISIS is a serious threat. It is too weak to threaten Tehran. The ISIS way of battle is based on asymmetric wars and Iran is the master of that, too. It can never come near to our borders. The only threat of ISIS is likely terrorist attacks — something we had at the beginning of our revolution.

  1. Is there any hope for an improvement in Iranian-Israeli relations? What would it take to achieve reduced tensions?

Sreza: Never. It is a very far reach to improvement in Iran-Israel relation. We are “miles” away from each other. Remember they hate us and so do we. Iran and Israel have widely different political perspectives. Iran does not recognize Israel as a government. This is a doctrine of Iran’s foreign policy, one of the pillars in Iran’s external policy. The West, especially the United States, mustn’t wait for any possible shift in Iran’s foreign policy in this regard.

  1. Do Iranians regret the holding of American embassy hostages? Is there any thought of trying to heal that wound?

Sreza: May be. But the USA has very bad record against Iran, especially at the beginning of the revolution. There were lots of papers and classified documents, special tools for spying. The United States tried to have contact with anti-revolutionary figures inside and outside the country. If the U.S. government shows us better signs and try to reshape a better relationship based on mutual respect and not impede our prosperity, and not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs, we would see better days that may be coming.

Sreza:  I have a question. What have you lost in Iran? Is it so important for you to have an embassy in Iran like other countries or do you want to reach here just to make a color revolution and regime change?

HP: We want a normal relationship based on mutual respect and noninterference.

Sreza: It takes a long time to establish political trust between Tehran and Washington. If Iran sees pressure on itself from the U.S. government — such as the latest about the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisting an Iranian airline — it cannot be considered as good will at all.

HP Note: I suspect many of the Tehran regime supporters (whether ideological or salaried) would agree with these answers. There are, of course, others to the hard-line right as well as to the liberal left among Iranians. The latter, who elected President Rouhani, are probably stronger.

Henry Precht is a retired Foreign Service Officer.

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